The Beach Boys are celebrating their 50th anniversary with a major reunion tour in support of That's Why God Made the Radio, their 29th album and first of new material since 1992. The band has built up a staggering body of work over the past five decades, ranging from brilliant bubblegum singles about girls, cars and surfing to their melancholy masterwork, Pet Sounds. We asked you to name your favorite Beach Boys songs and compiled this list of your top 10 picks.
Brian Wilson has said he conceived this 1965 hit during an LSD trip, which could explain why the accompaniment seems to move in a slow, steady daze at odds with the song's bright, major-key melody.
"Caroline, No" was originally released as a Brian Wilson solo single in advance of its inclusion on the Beach Boys' landmark Pet Sounds. Though the song fits in seamlessly with the album, it serves as a fine spotlight for Wilson's creative approach to arranging music, his gift for melody and the boyish purity of his singing voice.
"Barbara Ann" was originally written and performed by the Regents in 1961, but there is no question that the Beach Boys' 1965 recording is the definitive version of the tune. In this clip from the Jack Benny Show, the band deliver a rendition that contrasts their angelic voices with raw garage rock accompaniment.
"Sloop John B." is based on the traditional West Indies folk song "The John B. Sails," but the recording that appears on Pet Sounds is pure Beach Boys, with its gorgeous melody offset by a light yet lush arrangement by Brian Wilson.
Brian Wilson attempted to capture the feeling of the Ronettes' "Be My Baby" in this 1964 hit, and he arguably surpassed that classic, embellishing on one of his finest vocal melodies with an inventive, wonderfully spacious arrangement.
"In My Room" was one of Brian Wilson's first major breakthroughs, an effortlessly gorgeous ballad that set the tone for several other sensitive yet luxurious tunes to come.
The opening track from Pet Sounds is one of the Beach Boys' most optimistic and innocent tunes, an upbeat love song that showcases both Brian Wilson's boyish tone and the smooth, suave style of Mike Love.
Brian Wilson collaborated with Van Dyke Parks on "Surf's Up," a song that was originally intended as the centerpiece of the Beach Boys' scrapped masterwork Smile. The tune, one of Wilson's most melancholy and ambitious numbers, turned up on an album of the same name in 1971, but was eventually included on completed versions of Smile released much later on.
"Good Vibrations" is Brian Wilson's ultimate triumph as a producer, and one of the most innovative pop hits of the Sixties. The song, described by the band as a "pocket symphony," is a joyful celebration of sound that includes an eclectic assortment of instruments, ranging from electro-theremin and cello to harpsichord and tack piano.
It doesn't come as a surprise that the Beach Boys' finest ballad won this poll by a significant margin. "God Only Knows," sung by the late Carl Wilson, is one of the most heart-melting love songs ever penned, a piece of music so gorgeous in its form and sentiment that Paul McCartney, one of Wilson's few creative rivals in the Sixties, declared it to be his favorite song of all time.